Minimum viable phone for an adventure?

Minimum viable phone for an adventure?


Part of MEX Inspirations, an ongoing series exploring tangents and their relationship to better experience design.

I recently went along to A Night Of Adventure, a collection of talks by adventurers with a particular twist: each talk was accompanied by 20 slides which automatically moved on after 20 seconds – known as the Pecha Kucha format.

It reminded me placing constraints on experience is very much part of adventuring.

For example, Alastair Humphreys, the organiser, spoke of a trip in Spain. His constraints included having to raise money by playing his violin, and spending whatever money he had by the end of each day.

The 20×20 constraint made for fast-paced, energetic presentations, that conveyed a surprising amount of detail, emotion and learnings. It’s remarkable how often placing constraints on a solution makes for a better experience.

I began exploring this notion further. After reviewing the Punkt MP01 ‘dumb phone’ a few weeks ago, I now wondered what the ideal mobile phone might be for an adventurer. These were my product requirements:

  • Ability to make calls (especially in emergency).
  • Lightweight, and small, but with buttons that can be operated with a gloved hand.
  • Not easily damaged, for example, by water or shock.
  • Long stand-by battery life.
  • Low energy consumption.
  • GPS providing a grid reference but no mapping app.
  • Indeed, no ‘apps’.
  • A GPS beacon to transmit location in case of distress.
  • Some means of attaching it to the person.
  • Perhaps a version with a camera.

The very first of these is the most problematic: in many places there is no phone signal, which means either it’s useless; or having a cumbersome satellite phone. And if you can’t make calls, all we have is a GPS device.

Perhaps the minimum phone for an adventurer is no phone at all?

Part of MEX Inspirations, an ongoing series exploring tangents and their relationship to better experience design.